Liga Deportiva Universitaria
Based in Quito, Ecuador, Liga Deportiva Universitaria is a professional football club, currently playing in the Primera A, or the top flight of the Ecuadorian football league. With Estadio de Liga Deportiva Univeritaria as their home stadium, also known as La Casa Blanca, the team is the reigning champion after having won the 2008 Copa Libertadores. They are also the first team from Ecuador to win an international championship title.
Apart from their international victory, Universitaria is also one of the strongest teams in the Ecuador football league. With 9 titles to their credit, Universitaria is ranked 35th in the world rankings by IFFHS, and is also in the top ten clubs in CONMEBOL.
Founded in 1918 as Universidad Central del Ecuador, a semi-sports club, Dr. Cesar Jacome Moscoso was the main leader, during this period. But it was in 1930, by the efforts of Dr. Bolivar Leon, that Liga Deportiva universitaria was officially founded. With a starting budget of 500 sucres, during that time the club was promoting many sports such as athletics, baseball, basketball, ping-pong, chess, boxing and swimming, apart from football. Because of the low starting budget, the first team formed had to pay for its own uniforms, and also other expenses such as medical etc. The first uniform was designed by Dr. Leon himself, and consisted of a white shirt, with a U symbol in red at the back, which had two triangles, one red and one blue, in the background. Some of the players in the first team included Oswaldo Mosquera, Alfonso Troya, ‘El mono’ Icaza and Carlos Andrade Marin.
With key rivals as Club Deportivo El Nacional, Barcelona Sporting Club, Sociedad Deportiva Aucas and Sociedad Deportiva Quito, the club won its first championship in 1932. This was when a first division championship had been organized in the Pichincha province. Five teams participated in the championship, including Gladiador, Atletico, Cleveland, Liga and Gimnastico. Showcasing impressive form, Liga won all its matches and in the final match against Gladiador, held in ‘El Ejido’ the Municipal Stadium, they scored 4 goals against Gladiador’s nil, thus sealing their victory. A part of the championship team were players such as Alfonso Cevallos, Jorge Vallarino, Jorge Zapater, Humberto Yanez, Ernesto Guevara, Cesar Gonzalez and many others. Bolivar Leon was the team coach during this time.
The Super Classic, which originated in 1945, became one of the most memorable matches in the history of Ecuadorian football, and was played between Liga and Aucas, with the first game being a tie, 1-1. When a promotion was offered to one of the teams, the decision was to be made after a rematch on the 18th of February. The game ended in another draw 2-2, when the referee did not notice that time was up and ended up giving two minutes extra, allowing Aucas to equalize. This led to a lot of rioting by Liga fans, and ultimately the referee was changed, though the score did not. That year Carlos ‘El Chile’ Diaz, the first foreign player and coach of Liga, joined up with the team.
During the 1990s the team bagged six of its nine titles, and contributed immensely to the growth of Ecuadorian football, both nationally as well as internationally. The nine championship wins in the Primera A were in 1969, 1974, 1975, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. They went on to participate in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup, and in the 2006 FIFA World Cup they contributed seven players to the South American club, becoming the biggest contributor. Some of the players included Cristian Mora, Edison Mendez, Neicer Reasco, Paul Ambrosi, Agustin Delgado and Giovanny Espinoza. The team has also been a significant contributor to the Under-17 national team.
Some other impressive feats were reaching the semi-finals in the 2004 Copa Sudamericana, and also the semi-finals in the Copa Libertadores in 1975-76. In 2008 they went on to win the Copa Libertadores championship, where they defeated Fluminense, 3-1, achieved in a penalty shootout, after the score was tied at 5-5. Six of their players will now be appearing in the squad which will participate in the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers.
Estadio de Liga Deportiva Universitaria is their home stadium, and is the largest stadium in Quito, and the second largest in Ecuador. La Muerte Blanca, or The White Death are the biggest fans of Liga, and they always seat themselves in the southern general section of their stadium.
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